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Posts Tagged ‘visit england’

When the agency phoned me to take on an assignment in East Sussex I groaned. I’ve been to East Sussex numerous times and wanted to work farther afield, but since that was what was available, I accepted.

As usual I did a bit of research on the place where I’d be working and was delighted to discover that Lindfield was in fact a Domesday Book village. Hoorah!! Suddenly my perspective changed LOL

Lindfield is a charming village with apparently over 40 black and white houses, although I’ve only found 5 so far.

There’s a house on the main street that was built in the 1300s and restored in the 18th century.

Other than that, there’s the fabulous Toll House dating from 1630.

The high street is lined with some fantastic houses, covering architecture from the 14th century through to the 19th.

There’s a lovely pond as you reach the high street which makes for some marvellous images.

The parish council runs the show and as a result, small independent stores and shops are flourishing…no Tesco, no Boots, no Starbucks, no Costa and no charity shops that I’ve seen as yet. There is however a CoOp.

Within a short walk is a pretty little nature reserve, although I haven’t yet explored it too much since I don’t fancy sploshing through mud…. I’ll save that for my Winchester to Canterbury pilgrimage LOL

I’ve managed a few exploratory walks around the neighbourhood, and Lindfield is a tad more than just a village now….more like a smallish town, but it is very pretty with some beautiful gardens and houses.

Lindfield is the 117th Domesday Book village/place I’ve visited. Well exceeding my Project 101 target of 101 🙂

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On Friday,on one of my many walks about town, I took a different route and went downhill over the railway bridge to Barnards Green, and from there I headed back uphill to the Blue Bird Tearoom on Church Street; I had decided it was high time I paid them a visit!  There is nothing I enjoy more than a cup of tea and a scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream…is there any other way to eat a scone?

the blue bird tearoom and edward elgar

Statue of Edward Elgar on Belle Vue Terrace & The Blue Bird Tearoom, Great Malvern

The Blue Bird Tearoom was opened in 1913 and is recognised for one of it’s most famous patrons…Sir Edward Elgar, the well-known English Composer, famous for composing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ who visited frequently there with his friend Troyte Griffith.

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.’

Most of the furniture dates back to when the tearoom opened and some of the tables date back to the 1700’s. I wonder if I sat in the same chair that Edward himself did? 😉

This delightful little tearoom, up a flight of stairs, separated into two dining areas is just big enough for a few parties without being over-crowded. The settee at the top of the stairs looks very comfortable and very inviting! I can imagine lounging about with a good book and a tray with a large pot of tea….

I found myself a table facing the window with a view of Belle Vue Terrace and at a pinch the hills behind the town. A very young and hesitant young man took my order in due course and in no time at all my pot of tea arrived. A delicately flower patterned china ensemble that fit right in with the olde worlde atmosphere. Mind you, I would have been delighted if my tea had arrived in a silver teapot!! After a couple of minutes my fruit scone with strawberry jam and fresh clotted cream arrived….time to tuck in.

scones and tea at the Blue Bird Tearoom in Great Malvern

scones and tea at the Blue Bird Tearoom in Great Malvern

The scone was absolutely delicious…freshly made and bursting with plump juicy sultanas…just as I love it. The strawberry jam, although minimal was in fact just enough to spread generously over both sides of the scone, the clotted cream soft and fresh was also just enough to top the jam. Personally I love to heap the cream on top of the jam, but the quantities were just enough to send my taste-buds into a spin but not too much to increase my cholesterol exponentially.

I relaxed into the atmosphere and toyed again with the idea that perhaps Edward E had sat in the very chair I was sitting in 😉 Through the windowpanes I could see life in the town bustling on.

a statue edward elgar stands on Belle vue terrace, blue bird tearoom great malvern

the statue of Edward Elgar stands on the Belle Vue Terrace with a most marvellous view over the Severn Valley

I do so enjoy this little town and surprisingly, Great Malvern, when you look at it on a map is not very big at all….and yet, into that small space is packed an enormous amount of history. Great Malvern is an area of the spa town of Malvern, Worcestershire, England. It lies at the foot of the Malvern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty….and it really is a beautiful area.

I can highly recommend a Cream Tea at the Bluebird Tea Room. (9 Church St, Malvern WR14 2AA) All the food is freshly prepared on the premises and the prices are incredibly reasonable. I paid £3.95 for the scone with jam and cream and a pot of tea. A massive bargain in my opinion…the same thing in London would set you back between £5.95 and £8.95 depending on the location of the venue. I can’t even get it for that price in Broadstairs!

 

 

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I’ve lived in Broadstairs for just over two years now. With a number of connections to this famous author, Broadstairs has much to offer the Charles Dickens fan….including myself. However, as so often happens in life, when something is on your doorstep you tend to ‘put it off till another time’.  So since I have an impending move to Ramsgate in my stars…I decided to visit the Dickens House Museum BEFORE I move elsewhere.

charles dickens, dickens house museum, david copperfield charles dickens, broadstairs

David Copperfield – Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs

Charles Dickens lived in Broadstairs at many different stages of his life and a number of his books were either written here or inspired by characters in the area. He also, by all accounts, manage to live at quite a few different addresses in the area….a bit like me LOL However, although known as Dickens House Museum, Charles didn’t actually live in the house. It was in fact once the home of a friend; Miss Mary Pearson on whom he based much of the character of Miss Betsy Trotwood, David Copperfield’s great-aunt.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs

Stepping over the threshold into the museum is like stepping back in time to another era, you almost expect Dickens to come slowly down the stairs, book in hand.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Dickens’ Sideboard

Lovingly restored, with objects and furniture from that era, the house is filled with some items wonderful pieces from a wedding dress to the tiniest pieces of jewellery.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

a Victorian wedding dress, Victorian sewing items, various objects d’art and a collection of photos depicting houses associated with Dickens and a scene from the front room

You can see a copy of his will, his sideboard, and a fascinating collection of photos of properties related to Dickens.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Betsy Trotwood’s Parlour, Dickens House Museum

A reconstruction of Betsy Trotwood’s Parlour as described by Dickens in chapter 15 of David Copperfield.

The reconstructed nursery is utterly charming; you can almost hear the laughter of the children.

dickens house museum, betsy trotwood, david copperfield, charles dickens

The nursery

The Dickens House Museum is located just a few yards from the Victorian Promenade that runs along the clifftop looking out over Viking Bay and Broadstairs Beach.

broadstairs

a view of the bay from the cliff top

Broadstairs is a quintessential British seaside town with so much to offer, from ice-cream parlours, tea-shops, museums, Bleak House (where Dickens actually lived) a marvellous hotel, antique shops, artisan bakeries, a plethora of restaurants and some wonderful seaside town souvenir shops where you can buy buckets and spades.

broadstairs a seaside town in kent

a delightful seaside shop in Broadstairs

Come visit sometime 😉

p.s. we also have many typical High Street shops and charities

You can reach Broadstairs by train from St Pancras Station via Ashford or Victoria Station via Rochester from London.

 

 

 

 

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On my many Camino practice walks during this year I had occasion to walk along the clifftop between Ramsgate and Broadstairs and although I see the signs pointing to the Italian castle, I usually ignore it since my walks are usually quite focused and I don’t divert from my path.

But a few weeks ago while on a leisurely stroll I decided to heed the sign and headed off into the trees. I had no idea what to expect, but to my absolute delight I discovered a hidden gem of Ramsgate; The Italianate Greenhouse.

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

Italianate Greenhouse, King George VI Memorial Park, Ramsgate – a hidden gem

Stepping out of the trees, there before me was a totally unexpected sight; an ethereal-looking greenhouse that dates from the 19th century and appears to grow out of the castellated red-brick wall behind it. Erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge in 1832 by Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) who saw the structure in an auction catalogue and bought it, it was originally part of Bretton Hall in Yorkshire.

Constructed of cast iron curving ribs, the greenhouse is covered with fish-scale glass panes. Not very big, it houses an amazing collection of plants, of which the rather marvellous grapevine is certainly an attraction!!

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

the rather marvellous grapevine

The Greenhouse was recently the focus of attention when one of the Mexican Agave plants, after reaching 30ft bloomed for the first time. Apparently this only happens once every 100 years, so as you can imagine folks visited from far and wide to see this extraordinary event.

On the day of my visit, things were a little calmer and besides a family of 5 enjoying afternoon tea in the weakening sunshine, and a volunteer who was trimming the grass edges, I was quite alone to explore and enjoy. The garden is a delight.

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

Italianate Greenhouse and garden at Ramsgate

 

The Greenhouse is a Grade II* listed building and opens at certain times of the year, mostly in summer, for viewing and a chance to relax in the Tea Garden. For more information visit http://new.italianateglasshouse.co.uk/ The area through which you can reach the greenhouse is now known as King George VI Memorial Park.

The volunteers on site were very friendly and helpful and gave me an impromptu guided tour 😉

How to get there:

Access to the greenhouse and park is from either Montefiore Avenue or on the sea-side from Victoria Parade. It’s 50 meters away from the Montefiore Avenue entrance and a short stroll across the park from Victoria Parade.

The Tea Garden is open on fine weather summer days from approx 10.30am Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. The Greenhouse is open between 9am – 5pm weekdays from 1 April to 30 September. Enquiries: 07868722060.

 

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My sister thought it would be a great place to celebrate her birthday, her first in the UK and it was on my list of places to go in my quest to visit all the Cinque Ports; Dover, Hastings, Hythe, New Romney and Sandwich and their ‘7 surviving limbs’: Deal, Faversham, Folkstone, Lydd, Margate, Ramsgate and Tenterden.

Rye, now classified as an ‘ancient town’ was once a Cinque Port as was the ancient town of Winchelsea (of those listed, I have yet to visit those not highlighted)…. Places to go 😉

As mentioned in an earlier post my sister’s initial plan had been to visit the Isle of Wight but after reading an article about Mermaid Street in Rye, the decision was made to spend a few days in this ancient of towns. The first thing we discovered is that the cobbles in Mermaid Street were laid in the 1600’s!!

why go to rye

imagine all the history these cobbles have seen….

History that’s right up my street, so to speak 😉 How could I not want to go there. And so our plans were laid.

Initially there were meant to be four of us, but my sister’s two friends pulled out and so it was just the two of us…that reminds me of a song….LOL But let me not digress, Rye awaits.

We decided to arrive the night before so as to be in the town on her birthday…great idea! I had the hotel tie balloons to her chair for breakfast and persuaded them to put candles onto her breakfast plate!

Where will we put the candles they asked? Oh stick them in the sausage, I replied (as I crossed my fingers and hoped she ordered a full-English) – she did and to her surprise the breakfast arrived with 5 flaming candles!!! accompanied by a fantastic rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, if I may say so myself 😉

So those were our reasons; here are the reasons you should go!

Ancient history: Rye’s history dates back to before the Norman Conquest at which time it was a small fishing village almost surrounded by water. Since then, the sea has retreated and although there is still a small harbour and a river, the town now lies 2 miles from the sea. Fascinatingly the river is affected by the tides, so it’s fun to watch the ships and boats moored alongside rise and fall on the incoming and outgoing tides. I know – it’s the little things that please me!

why you should go to rye

old fishing boat in Rye Harbour on the Rother

Mermaid Street: listed as one of the prettiest streets in Britain, this quintessentially English street is lined with amazing architecture; the Mermaid Inn, a Grade II* listed building – one of the oldest inns in Britain; restored in 1420 (hello!! note it was ‘restored‘ in 1420!!),

why go to rye

The Mermaid Inn, Rye – restored in 1420

sits comfortably alongside extraordinary Tudor Houses, gorgeous Georgian Houses and a mix in between, bearing some of the most quintessential house names you could imagine, in fact the house names in the whole town were just wonderful.

why go to rye

House names in Rye

We found the street utterly enchanting and spent ages photographing just about every house. The cobbles lend a charming aspect to the atmosphere of stepping back in time and you feel as if at any time a pilgrim could come slowly by, followed perhaps by a knight on his horse or maybe a royal entourage on it’s way to the inn….talking of which, you simply must step into this gem of a building. Oh the history!! It’s extraordinary and I would love to spend a few nights there!!

why you should go to rye

Mermaid Street in Rye

Rye Castle Museum and Ypres Tower: there is something quite spine-tingling when you turn a corner and discover a castle!! My jaw dropped…just wow!!

why go to rye

Rye Castle; Ypres Tower

Thought to have been built in the early 14th century, Ypres Tower (Rye Castle) was part of the town’s defences and the 2nd oldest building in Rye. Although not as big as some castles I have visited before, Ypres Castle is beautiful. Explore the building to discover the Tower’s role through 9 turbulent centuries. Climb to the battlements for a view of the salt marshes and the remains of what during the 16th century was one of the largest and 7th busiest port in England. The views are to die for!!

why go to rye

the view from the battlements of Rye Castle

Head below ground to the dungeons and try your hand at archery! It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies and the swords are rather heavy!! There are some helmets you can try on for fun 😉 We made ourselves look quite silly. while you are there be sure to visit The Women’s Tower; a 19th century prison (believed to be the only women’s prison to survive unaltered from the 1800’s to the present day), the Medieval Herb Garden and the gun garden.  At 3 East Street in Rye and just a short walk from the castle is the Museum where you will find an eclectic and fascinating collection of relics from Rye’s past; costumes, toys, pottery, shipbuilding, an ancient fire-engine and so very much more.

St Mary’s Church; the oldest building in Rye; the Parish Church of Rye has, for 900 years, dominated the hill on which this ancient town stands. Sometimes called the ‘the Cathedral of East Sussex’ the building of the present church was started in the 12th century.

why go to rye

The fantastic 16th century clock at St Mary’s Rye

In 1377 the town was looted and set on fire, the church suffered extensive damage causing the roof to fall in and the looters carried the bells off to France – not taking this lying down, the following year, the men of Rye and Winchelsea set sail for Normandy, set fire to and raided two towns and thus recovered the bells. Today you can climb the battlements and be amazed at the fantastic views of the surrounding town and countryside  and Romney Marshes from the tower.

why go to rye

view of Rye Castle and the River Rother from the battlements of St Mary’s

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view across the roofs of Rye and the windmill in the distance

On your way up, beware the bells – they bong on the hour and could damage your ear drums (ask my sister who stuck her head above the parapet just as the bells gonged the hour for 2pm!! She nearly fell off the steps in shock. One of the oldest church turret towers in the country still functioning, the ‘new’ clock made by the Hugenot, Lewys Billiard, was installed in about 1561/2. You can see the pendulum swinging as you enter the church. Do note that the stairway leading to the tower’s viewing platform are VERY narrow!! LOL.

why go to rye

Sioux and The Bell!!

 

The Landgate Tower: What a startling discovery!! I had seen it listed on the town map the hotel gave us, but that didn’t prepare us for the reality. Again we stumbled upon this ancient treasure quite by accident whilst meandering the streets and couldn’t forsake a closer look. After the French attacked the town in 1339 burning 52 houses and a mill, the Mayor and town corporation decided to build town walls and gates. They received a grant from the King; Edward III and got busy building walls and 4 gates.

why go to rye

The Landgate

The Landgate dates from about 1340. Of the original 4 gates, this is the most complete remaining. Touching the stones that make up this amazing structure gives me goosebumps. Just think about the history and the people this gate has seen…as they say: if walls could talk. There’s a delightful antiques shop right next to the gate and just beyond the gate is ‘Crepes on the Corner’ – the best crepes in town..and they were. I had Nutella and banana…delicious!!  There are glimpses of one of the other gates; Strandgate, incorporated into the Old Borough Arms Hotel at the bottom of Mermaid Street.

The Windmill:  We had seen this marvellous structure the previous day and on our way to Mermaid Street we decided to ‘pop in’ and have a look. I adore windmills, they add such a sense of history and mystery to a place….you feel almost compelled to go have a look. The distinctive and famous Rye Mill is a Grade 2 listed building and has been the inspiration for artists and photographers throughout the centuries. It occupies an historic site in Gibbet’s Marsh where a windmill has stood, in one form or another, since at least the sixteenth century. The Symondons map of Rye created in 1594 shows an illustration of a windmill in the exact spot where today’s mill now stands.  Now a B&B, we had a quick peek at one of the rooms. Located over the railway line and right next to the river, it’s charming and I can assure you that I am so going to stay there some day in the future.

why go to rye

The Rye Windmill

Rye Harbour: classified as a village, this tiny cluster of houses, jetty’s and buildings relative to a harbour are a delight to see. One of the most recognised images is an abandoned fisherman’s hut; black walls, a red tin roof with white painted windows and door that look like a face, stands almost halfway between the harbour and the river mouth.

why go to Rye

the old fisherman’s hut in Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Rye reached the zenith of her power during the 16th century and at any one time there could be 200 ships anchored near the Strandgate – handling every kind of cargo from around the world. The largest and busiest port on the south coast during Tudor times due to it’s proximity to the continent, Rye’s harbour was more important than Portsmouth or Southampton. Although still a busy fishing harbour, today there are but just a few glimpses left of the original Rye Port, and to reach anything that resembles a harbour requires a short drive from the town to Rye Harbour – a drive well worth taking.

why go to rye

Rye Harbour

The harbour borders onto the nature reserve which is marvellous to walk through of an early morning.  The decline of Rye’s harbour was ultimately caused by the silting up of the river. Silt carried by the incoming tides stayed and settled in the bottom of the river leaving a film of silt which finally made the river un-navigable for ships. Today you can walk along the gravel road that runs between the salt-marshes and the river to the pebbled beaches. Perfect at sunrise.

why go to Rye

The River Rother flows down to the sea…

Rye Harbour Church: as you drive towards Rye Harbour and Nature Reserve, look to your right for a glimpse of this beautiful little church. Built in 1849 in the gothic style, the church of the Holy Spirit was designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon and constructed of local blue stone and Caen stone. Support for the construction of the church came from local estate owners; Mr & Mrs William Lucas Shadwell. In the churchyard is a memorial commemorating the 1928 Mary Stanford Lifeboat tragedy when 17 crew members lost their lives.

why go to Rye

Rye Harbour Church

Pubs: as with all towns like Rye there is always a church and those quintessential essential necessities of community life; the pub!  😉  We managed to eat at two and have drinks in one. On our first night in Rye, after exploring the lower reaches of Mermaid Street and surrounding area, we stopped at the Ship Inn for a yummy meal. A congenial location we enjoyed the atmosphere so much we tarried awhile and played a game of scrabble.

why go to rye

a game of scrabble at The Ship Inn

I love how you can do that. The pubs in the UK (and Ireland) are more like family gathering places than drinking houses.  For our 3rd night in Rye we booked to eat at the Ypres Castle Inn, a 17th century pub nestled at the foot of the castle! Accessed down a steep flight of steps the lamps cast an inviting pool of light for a weary, hungry traveller. As you walk down the steps you will find an ancient set of ‘stocks’ used for the naughty people of Rye LOL. We enjoyed a most delicious meal there; for my sister it was the Lamb Hot Pot and for me Battered Cod (the biggest piece of fish I have ever been served), delicious chips and mushy peas.  Although we didn’t tarry for long, it wasn’t due to the ambiance which was lovely. We had in fact both walked ourselves stupid that day exploring every corner and Lydd, and were exhausted by the time we had our meal. The staff were lovely.

why go to rye

the history of 4 inns in Rye

The streets of the medieval town: Rye is quite simply the picture perfect place to meander.  We set off just after breakfast on Saturday to explore and photograph Mermaid Street more fully…..5 hours later and we were still meandering.

why go to rye

Rye architecture

What an extraordinary array of cobbled streets, lanes and alleyways leading hither and thither, quaint houses line the cobbled streets up and down, each an enchanting delight. Every corner we turned opened up to more delights; with an “oh my gosh”, or “ooooo look there!” from me and a laugh of bemusement from my sister as my constant “okay, just one more corner” eventually turned out to envelope almost the whole town.

why go to rye

Rye, a gem of South East England

There are 15th century inns, Tudor houses, the Vicarage where John Fletcher, the Jacobean dramatist, was born in 1536, the Old Rye Grammar School erected in 1636, the old water tower next to the church and so very much more to see.

And last but not least: the three rivers – Rother, Brede and Tillingham.

why go to rye

Three rivers of Rye

The River Rother flows down to the sea….This is the river along which we meandered in the morning and the evening for photos. Used for navigation since Roman times, the river is navigable by small boats as far as Bodiam Castle. With it’s source near Rotherfield and it’s mouth in Rye Bay, the river flows for 35 miles through the English counties of East Sussex and Kent. Its mouth was further to the east at New Romney prior to 1287, but a great storm blocked its exit to the sea and changed its course to flow via Rye.

The River Tillingham rises from two springs near Staplecross, a small settlement in the Parish of Ewhurst in East Sussex and joins the Brede and Rother at Rye.

The River Brede takes its name from the Village of Brede which lies between Hastings and Tenterden. It flows into Rock Channel which is the tidal section of the River Tillingham and joins the River Rother at Rye.

With tales of sailors’, smugglers, storms, ships, seas and derring do, of pilgrims and kings, heroes, dramatists, writers, and a nursery rhyme, you simply must visit Rye!

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep! – According to legend, this well-known nursery rhyme derives from the deeds of smugglers in the town of St Leonard’s.  West of Burtons St. Leonards is the area known as Bo-Peep which was once a tiny village renowned for smuggling in bygone days:

why go to rye

One of 4 Smuggler gangs that operated in the area of Rye

           Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them;                                                      leave them alone, And they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them

Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep, and dreamt she heard them bleating;
but when she awoke, she found it a joke, for they were still a-fleeting.
Then up she took her little crook, determined for to find them; she found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed, for they’d left their tails behind them.
It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray into a meadow hard by,
there she espied their tails side by side, all hung on a tree to dry.
She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye, and over the hillocks went rambling,
and tried what she could, as a shepherdess should, to tack each again to its lambkin.

Rye is a real gem of England; playing a very important role in the history of the country, remnants of which can still be seen today.   It’s pictureque, charming and an absolute delight to explore. We loved it!

why go to rye

Originally, the Cinque Ports (pronounced ‘Sink’ Ports) were a confederation of five harbours, Sandwich, Romney, Dover, Hythe, and Hastings plus the two Ancient Towns of Rye & Winchelsea. Grouped together, for defence purposes, by Edward the Confessor, they supplied the Crown with ships and men.

 

Interesting links:

What are Cinque Ports?

http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/home/ypres-tower/

http://www.faversham.org/history/maritime.aspx

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Two years ago my daughter up sticks and moved to Broadstairs. I’d heard of the place but never been there.

broadstairs

Broadstairs – a seaside town in Kent

My heart wrenched when I left London – I rent a room from her for the times I’m not working, so I had a choice of finding somewhere in London to live or continuing our previous arrangement. Saying goodbye to London and the River Thames was really hard.

twickenham bridge & the river thames

view of the Thames from Twickenham Bridge…I loved this view

I had many. many happy memories of our time in Twickenham/Richmond and spent so many hours walking alongside, photographing and just staring at the Thames that I could live another life, it is a truly beautiful area and stretch of my favourite river.

I camped out in an empty house for two days after she left on the 4th, but finally my time ran out and 2 years ago today, with suitcases and bags in hand (travel lightly you say!! How???), struggling to drag and carrying my load along the sidewalk and across roads to the station, I finally arrived at Broadstairs; 3 train journeys and 3 hours later.

What an amazing place…….and that beach!!!! Our lives are spent walking along that….

broadstairs

a view of the bay from the cliff top

The house is a tiny, charming little place, a home where we’ve since acquired a kitty by the name of Elsie, a rescue cat, who after months of lots of TLC has settled in like she always lived there!

The town a treasure trove of history and places to explore……

…..but the best thing about living in Broadstairs are the sunrise and sunset.

Now we don’t always get to see either of these due to the inclement UK weather, but every now and then a real charmer puts on a display like no other. Winter is the best time of year to watch the sunrise (for me that is) coz it comes up later and I’m not an early bird…although I have been known to drag on my clothes, eyes still sticky with sleep, teeth unbrushed, grab the keys and dash along to the esplanade….sans my first cup of tea!!! which is a miracle, but some days the miracle is happening on the horizon.

sunrise over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

sunrise over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

We’ve watched many a sunrise and quite a few sunsets since moving to Broadstairs. We’ve watched calm days when the water is so still you feel you could walk across it and other where the wind lashed the waves into a fury as they lash out and crash against the harbour wall.

sunset over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

sunset over Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Viking Bay and the beach that ‘belongs’ to Broadstairs certainly is in my opinion the most beautiful of all the beaches/bays in the area, is a constant gift of beauty. It is the first thing I head over to when I get home and usually the last thing I wander over to look at before I leave on my next assignment. It is a constant draw and even when we’re home, we walk along the esplanade just about every day.

viking bay broadstairs

beautiful Viking Bay, Broadstairs

I have explored the streets and museums, eaten at the tearooms and restaurants, walked this way and that along the coast; either northwestwards to Margate or south to Ramsgate. It is the start and end point of my practice Camino walks and has been like a cosy blanket in my memory when I am working away and longing for my bed and the familiarity of the streets.

broadstairs a seaside town in kent

wish you were here….

Now, two years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It has become home……just in time for my daughter to up sticks and move again LOL At the moment she is house-hunting with a plan to buy her own home. I guess in the foreseeable future I will be landing somewhere else to watch the sunrise and sunset….who knows where?

So long as there is a beach 🙂 Life is after all……a beach!!

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20160423_161749 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

Dover Castle and St George’s Day 2016

Having my birthday on the same day as St George’s Day certainly opens it up for attending amazing events.  No less this year.  Since I wasn’t in the mood for the long train journey to London to watch the Morris Dancers at Leadenhall Market, or attend the St George’s Day Festival at Trafalgar Square, (as well as which I’ve done that before a few times), I decided instead to head over to Dover Castle for the St George’s Day Festival. It also helped that I have an English Heritage membership 😉20160423_154929 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

Dover is not too far from Broadstairs by train, so early on the morning of Saturday 23rd I hopped onto the train and made my way there. I’ve visited the castle before and ohmyword, it is extraordinary. England’s biggest castle, the size of the place leaves you breathless, both with wonder and physically! It takes a good few hours to explore all the nooks and crannies and walk the perimeter.  And there is so much to see.

20160423_115012 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

The Constables Gate, Dover Castle. constructed 1220-1227

The blurb promised an action-packed knight vs dragon festival.  It didn’t disappoint. Starting at 10am the events ranged from horsemanship, swordsmanship and medieval music,

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

medieval musicians

to a mock up village with craftsmen and women going about their medieval business.  We were treated to live cooking demonstrations, archery, swordsmanship displays, medieval music and jesters plying their trade.

I got there really early and made my way into the castle grounds, this time approaching from the top of the cliffs via bus, rather than walking up like I did the previous visit (insane idea).  Have you any idea just how high those cliffs are? You can see France from the top…hello!!!!

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across the English channel to France

A cluster of medieval tents were set up here and there, and the villagers were chatting to visitors and demonstrating their trade and crafts. A colourful medley of sounds and colours – although I’m sure it smelt a lot more fragrant than it did during medieval times.

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…medieval streets were most certainly not paved with gold!

The costumes were beautifully done, flags flapping gaily in the ever present wind – which at times can almost blow you off your feet.20160423_123748 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip High above the castle keep, the flag of England with the cross of St George flapped wildly in the wind alongside the Union Jack.

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St George’s Day Festival at Dover Castle

I meandered here and there, exploring the interior and precincts of the castle enjoying the different displays before settling down at the west end of the green to watch the displays of swordsmanship as knights in their armour valiantly fought one another.  They are marvellous, although it does look awfully tiring.

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the knight’s fight

Afterwards I made my way to the jester’s encampment for what was to be an hour of sheer and unadulterated fun and silliness.  Whoever they were, they were fantastic. A lot of the quips were definitely aimed at the older generation, but the visuals and tricks appealed to all ages…I was laughing so much at one stage I could barely hold the camera still as I was recording.

Then the coup de grace and finale; a titan battle between St George on his sturdy mount

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

St George on his trusty steed

and the fearsome dragon!!! LOL – right???!!!

This epic display filled the spectator stands (wet grass) as we waited breathlessly while St George fought off the evil Black Knight on his stallion….

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

The Black Knight and St George do battle

….before tackling the effervescent dragon. St George is his eagerness to slay the dragon raced up to the horrible green creature intent on murder!! His not so sturdy mount objected to the sudden halt, skidded on the wet grass, and reared up so high that St George’s rump met the ground with a thump!!

St George's Day festival at Dover Castle

St George lands on his rump with a thump!

The horse was retired, and on foot St George raced after the dragon, his armour rattling, wielding his mighty sword to rescue the virgin, and slayed the fearsome creature.  Hoorah! The battle was won.

St George's Day festival at Dover Castle

…and so the dragon is slewed!!! LOL

The weather as usual managed to provide 4 seasons in one day and we had a mix of sunshine, howling gales, a shower of rain and heavy black clouds that hung menacingly over the castle….threatening to lash down but not quite getting there. All we needed was a smattering of snow (not unheard of) and hail and we would have had a typical spring day in the UK. LOL

In all a brilliant day and superb way to celebrate my birthday. Thanks St George 😉 nice to have you on board.

I can highly recommend a visit to Dover Castle. It is by far one of the most awesome castles I have visited to date.  Mind you, to be fair, most of the castles I have visited are amazing…..all in their own special way.

Visit Dover Castle

St George is the Patron Saint of England

The horses used during the events were Atkinson’s Action Horses

You can reach Dover Castle via car, on foot (if you have the oomph to climb the hill), by bus from the city centre. The station is Dover Priory

 

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